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6 things we do every day that are illegal

September 18, 2014 09:55 IST

Did you know you've already broken the law without realising it?


When was the last time you got caught for breaking the law?

Did you know that something as harmless as singing 'Happy Birthday' to someone you love could land you in trouble?


Maybe you should also be careful about downloading your favourite music tracks from the internet.

Still don't get it?

Well, then, here's a list of things most of us do in our daily life that can get us punished. Read on...

Photograph: Reuters


Speeding is a traffic offence. Photograph: Mohamed Al Hwaity/Reuters


Did you think this existed only abroad?

Speeding constitutes a major section of traffic offences that are committed every day, all the time in India.

You see speed signs on roads?

Those are not for decoration.

To illustrate, the Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai has become a speedway for car owners, with cars speeding above 80km/h during peak hours on a prescribed limit of 50km/h.

Smoking in public

Avoid smoking in public places, including malls and college campuses. Photograph: Beawiharta Beawiharta/Reuters 


No, you can't smoke at a bus stop. Nor at a train station. Nor even inside a taxi or an auto-rickshaw even if you’re the sole person riding it.

Smoking in public places is banned.

And in this context 'public places' means cinemas, offices, hotels, restaurants, markets, shopping malls, hospitals, college campuses, parks, bars and clubs.

You're allowed to smoke only on roads, inside your house and vehicle, and other places with a designated smoking area.

Internet piracy

It is against the law to download movies off the internet. Photograph: Vivek Prakash/Reuters

Globally, India is one of the largest hubs for online piracy.

Downloading movies, music and copyright content from the internet is absolutely against the Indian copyright law, as are uploading copyright content to the web.

By the way, saving images off the web, uploading them elsewhere like Reddit, making memes out of them, using them in your projects, etc are illegal too.

That image does not belong to you; its copyright belongs to someone else, so you can’t profit from it without their permission.


You could be fined for littering in public places. Photograph: Juan Carlos Ulate/Reuters

The Indian mentality -- if it isn't useful, toss it out.

Littering the streets is an offence is certain cities in India.

Throwing garbage, spitting or urinating in public places could get you caught and burden you with a heavy fine coupled with an intense lecture from your local sweeper or municipal official on why keeping streets clean is important.


Helmetless rides

Speeding is a traffic offence. Photograph: Mohamed Al Hwaity/Reuters

The thrill of riding with the breeze in your hair and the city speeding by is simply out of this world and also absolutely illegal.

Under Section 129 (read with Section 177) of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, it is compulsory to wear protective headgear while riding a bike.

In Delhi, even the pillion rider must wear a helmet.

Reiterating the traffic police’s much loved road safety campaigns, 'Raavan had 10 heads, you have only 1, so wear a helmet!'

Photograph: Saad Shalash/Reuters 

Singing 'Happy Birthday to You' in public

You must resist the temptation to sing 'Happy Birthday' in public. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

That birthday song you wait for every year is under copyright!

Corporate bigwig Warner Music owns the copyright and has made illegal any public performance of the song.

Can you sing it in a house with only family and a handful of close friends around? Sure. 

In your college campus? Nope.

On the streets? No way.

The next time you want to loudly serenade your friend on their birthday, think about paying royalties to Warner.

That explains why nobody sings the song in films and TV shows.

Manil S Dodani